About the Concept
SELF IMAGE PHOTOGRAPHY
Photography – From the Inside Out
Self-image is a learned behavior. Many people carry some type of negative image about themselves. Whether originating from childhood, criticism, or a traumatic experience, these negative feelings are often no longer valid but those feelings can have a dramatic effect on how a person acts and reacts with everyday life.
How you see yourself and how you believe others view you constitutes your body image. A negative self-image has a tremendous impact on your mental and physical wellbeing.
It is often recommended to stand in front of a mirror looking at your body in an attempt to become more accepting of the various features that are seen as flaws. Picture yourself standing in front of that mirror. Are you seeing your true self or are you once again seeing the negative image you believe to be in the mirror?
What if the mirror could talk back?
Spanning more than 20 years, Howard has photographed people from all walks of life. By connecting with a person’s essence, photography can bring about a shift in a subject’s view of him or herself, and his or her body image.
Howard instinctively creates a safe space of comfort and quickly establishes trust between subject and photographer. The better a person feels about themselves the better they look and these moments are captured. When they see the end results it can be very gratifying and transformative. They see another side of themselves that they were hiding due to a variety of inhibiting factors.
The session is dictated by the subject, ranging from facial to full body and from fully clothed to more revealing. The session is 100% private with the added security of a written agreement that the information is confidential and the photographs and are for the subject’s sole and exclusive use. No images are used by the photographer.
Howard photographs his subjects in a very comfortable setting with various poses and differing angles. This atmosphere allows the replacement of self-consciousness and promotes a true and freer expression of the subject’s self-image. The session is often exhilarating, cathartic, and always exciting.
The images are then viewed together by Howard and his subject. The subject is frequently amazed and astonished by the images, oftentimes leading the subject to the conclusion that his or her previous self-perceptions may have been distorted.
The subject is then provided with a set of contact sheets to review at his or her leisure. These contact sheets can be used with his or her therapist, leading the subject on a journey of self-acceptance.
Some factors that may contribute to a negative body image include, but are not limited to:
- Teasing and bullying earlier in life;
- A cultural tendency to judge people on their appearance;
- Societal views of fashion models and sports figures as role models for young boys and girls;
- Advertising campaigns featuring idealized body images;
- Body scarring;
- Sexual abuse and assault.
These causes can potentially result in:
- Low self-esteem;
- Eating Disorders;
- Excessive Dieting
- Exercise Addiction;
- Steroid and drug abuse;
- Sexual Dysfunction.
Every body, every face, every person is unique. There is no one definitive “right” body. The photography session focuses on the subject’s individuality. The subject will often break down barriers that inhibit self-expression and are very surprised to come away with images that can result in an enhanced body image and self-perception.
To alter body image changed perceptions must precede physical changes. These photos are tangible proof that people are no longer the awkward or unappealing people they once thought they were or were led to believe.
These photographs promote positive self-image. The proof is in the picture. Some people have a major shift after seeing their photos. The process is often extremely healing.
Subjects have been heard to remark:
- “ I never thought I looked like this”
- “ I never thought I could look this good”
Howard’s photography has helped subjects deal with:
- Weight loss or gain;
- The onset of age;
- Surgical recuperation;
- Body scarring;
- Eating Disorders;
- Addiction recovery;
Negative body image is developed over a lifetime and changing it can take time and effort. Howard’s photographs can be used as a therapeutic tool towards self-discovery and in conjunction with therapy the images can take on a very powerful meaning.
EXPERTS IN THE FIELD OF THERAPEUTIC PHOTOGRAPHY
Further research into the field of therapeutic photography can be found by searching the work of the following:
Ellen Fisher Turk